Perhaps you, like me, have listened to Bauhaus and Killing Joke and thought, ‘Well, this is great, but I wish it was a bit more of a rager.’ Similarly, maybe you listened to The Effigies and Samhain before musing to yourself, ‘Cool, although I thought it’d be darker.’ In other words, it’s occurred to you that deathrock could be a tad deathier and - if it’s not too distasteful of me to say so - rock a hell of a lot harder.
Step forward, Altar of Eden. The project of Austin, TX resident Albert Limones (whose bruising sounds you may have heard in the shadowy likes of Nosferatu and Creamers), it’s an unholy marriage of Big Black’s mechanistic rhythms and the serrated, atmospheric noise of yer favourite early ‘80s 4AD types. Tracks like ‘The Abandonment’ absolutely lay waste to your speakers - it opens with a harrowing shriek before throbs of chorusing bass and guitar carve out their own unnerving paths. Somewhere in the distance, a menacing voice can be heard, buried in murk and distortion, with the song operating at breakneck pace and maximum volume - hey, I think our criteria may have been met.
Second track ‘Tears’ ups the ante, leaning heavily on atmospheric gloom while pushing the drum machine to the fore, like Clan of Xymox setting up traps for the Slenderman, before the lacerating strafes of guitar on ‘Eternity’ invite the nightmares to truly begin. And that’s just the first three songs - by the time ‘Death in the Country’ gallops to a beautifully discordant end, we’re well and truly bewitched by this wonderful, horrible noise.
‘The Grotto Screams’ was originally released on cassette in April of last year, before finally getting this well-deserved vinyl pressing - one of the first truly essential releases of 2021. Don’t miss out.